The arguments in our society seem to be getting louder and louder. There are many who will quickly raise their voices up over anything that seems to offend. There are many that are so afraid of offending that they will change their entire language to ensure it is pleasing to the masses. It is a volatile landscape, with many of us confused about what it means to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).
Love in Speech, Truth in Speech
We all certainly know how to speak. In fact, if you’re like me, you probably speak too often! It is important for us to understand that the truth that we are to be speaking of is not “our own” truth, but God’s truth. John 14:6 reassures us that there is only one source of truth. It’s God’s truth, not our opinion, that matters, and it is our responsibility to reflect His truth in every situation.
Jesus says the world will know us by our love for one another (John 13:35). Speaking in love includes speech that is gentle (Prov 15:1) and confident in God’s Word. It includes the elements of love that are described in 1 Corinthians 13. We don’t need to be afraid to lovingly rebuke one another because this is an example of speaking the truth in love if we do it as God instructs.
Love in Rebuke
Godly rebuke is essential for us to disciple one another and a sign of maturity and growth among the body. Consider Proverbs 17:10: “A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool” (NIV). In other words, someone who has given their life to Christ and is submissive to the indwelling Holy Spirit, obeying His promptings (John 16:13) will see the value in a loving rebuke that points him or her back to God.
And we must remember that it is not our job to convince anyone of truth. We are simply to share truth in a loving way. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring the inner conviction and repentance that leads to change.